D.C. second among metro areas for Peace Corps volunteers

WASHINGTON –They may call the folks in the nation’s capital an egotistic bunch, but for a population driven by politics and power, they live in one of the top metro areas in the country for Peace Corps volunteers.

Volunteerism is slightly down overall in the U.S, according to a new study by the Corporation for National and Community Service’s annual “Volunteering and Civic Life in America Report.”

The report says 62.6 million Americans volunteered for nearly 7.7 billion hours, down from 64.5 million Americans volunteering nearly 7.9 billion hours last year.

But according to the Peace Corps’ annual count, the District came in second among states with the most Peace Corps volunteers per capita (per 100,000 residents); and the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro region also came in second among top volunteering metro areas in 2014.

Vermont emerged as the top Peace Corps state per capita, while the New York-Newark-New Jersey tops the list of metro areas.

“Peace Corps volunteers promote a better understanding of Americans around the world by sharing their unique hometown perspective during their service,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said in a news release. “As we forge a modern Peace Corps for modern times, we remain committed to building a volunteer force that reflects the rich diversity of our country and doing more to recruit and retain the best and brightest across the U.S.”

The area does not rank as high among other states when it comes to overall volunteering, which was gauged by the “Volunteering and Civic Life in America Report.” In that report, citizens of Utah, Idaho, Minnesota, Kansas and Wisconsin lead the way in volunteerism. Louisiana, New York, Nevada, Florida and Arkansas are at the bottom.

Representatives from southern states complained that the study doesn’t accurately reflect the total volunteering because it does not reflect all the church work their residents do.

“A lot of folks think of church volunteering as a spiritual activity and don’t connect it with volunteerism,” Judd Jeansonne, executive director of government-run Volunteer Louisiana, told USA TODAY. “We’ve conducted our own surveys with a prompt to include church volunteering and it added roughly 10 percent onto our volunteerism rates.”

The report also broke down the age of volunteers, finding that parents of school-aged children are the busiest at volunteering (ages 35 to 44) at 31.3 percent.

The least likely to volunteer are those 20-24, where volunteerism is at 19 percent.

Seniors give the most time, with 92 volunteer hours per year. For other groups, the median is around 50 hours, according to the report.

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